Really great restaurants in both Berkeley, Albany and nearby Rockridge (Oakland), unique boutique shopping on Fourth St, varied styles of housing (this ain't the 'burbs!) and lots of trees keep it real. Birthplace of Peet's coffee, Tilden Park for hiking, biking, walking, the UC Campus.
Check out the link below it is to the Heat Map for Oakland the zip of the neighborhood I am speaking about is 94618
You might want to check Hayward. It has BART to the City, easy connection via enhance San Mateo Bridge (more lanes) to the Peninsula, but most importantly, a lot of new development and condo conversion. Please describe their requirements closer and if the area might be suitable - I will post more information. The bottom line, they can get a nice place in Hayward area below $300,000.